Following on from the book list @Mooley made me make the other day, I thought I’d step out into further territory of subjectivity and cliche, and make the obligatory list of my 10 favourite films. So here we go.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that the exercise wasn’t so much trying to work out what to put in, as much as what to leave out…
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – this is an absolute no-brainer, and really I wondered if this still qualifies as a film: it’s more of a set of guiding principles for living, really. Jeffrey Jones, Alan Ruck, and Richard Edson will always – no matter how substantial their subsequent body of work – be Ed Rooney, Cameron Frye, and Garage Attendant. I love watching it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking it up. And of course the soundtrack needs little mention other than “Bom bom…. chick…. chicka chickaaaaaaa……”.
- Ghostbusters – Ivan Reitman’s masterpiece about science, featuring the hardworking trio of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Every situation that arises in life has a relevant response or comment drawn from the script of this film, which hangs off the classic & timeless framework of the “Girl’s apartment possessed by demons, girl goes to see scientist, scientist falls in love with girl, girl turns into spectral hound, scientist destroys gigantic marauding man made from marshmallow, spectral hound turns back into girl, scientist gets girl” story.
- The Blues Brothers – 2 of the best car chases in history, one of which takes place inside a shopping mall, and was filmed well before the special effects industry rendered it possible to do so without destroying everything which they destroy here. And the tunes… the tunes… truly one of the finest film soundtracks ever, performed by some top class blues musicians.
- This is Spinal Tap – the first time I saw this, at the age of 14, it took me a while to twig that this wasn’t a genuine documentary. As my knowledge of rock music expands, it becomes less and less clear how much of this film is fictional. Whilst the epic rock ballad “Stonehenge” paid earnest homage to the ancient druids, the names Tufnel, St Hubbins and Smalls have become fixtures of worship in themselves. And, of course, there’s the impossible to refute longstanding social and cultural impact of the phrase, “These go to 11”.
- Flying High / Airplane – I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. I never fully understood why Australia got this film under a different title to the rest of the world, but to me it’ll always be “Flying High”, and the reference masterwork when it comes to ludicrous pile-the-jokes-on films by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker hive. I’m really struggling to say anything about this without just pulling out huge chunks of quotes!
- Monty Python & The Holy Grail – a bit of a cobbled-together sketch film, shot on about £150,000 but nonetheless an enduring cornerstone of teenage silliness. Probably didn’t get to see this one as many times as some of the others because Lynn had my video for so long. Who am I kidding? Like I needed the video…
- The Empire Strikes Back – I think it an empirical fact that nobody in their right mind could draw up a top 10 film list without including at least one entry from the Original Star Wars trilogy, so it’s got to be Empire – a little darker than the other two and minus the cutesy Ewok nonsense, but without the long boring desert-walking tracts of the first film. Plus of course Empire had the pivotal and shocking revelation about Darth being Luke’s father.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark – in the good old days Lucas would write the stories and Speilberg would tell ’em. Raiders is absolute textbook high adventure, spawning disproportionate and unrealistic expectations in the field of Archaeology for millions of adolescents. Shot after shot of memorable brilliance relentlessly played out in this film, with the good guys being good, the bad guys being bad, nice satisfying closing sequence involving the MacGuffin, and 2-dimensional characters strong enough that you’d let them carry you on for another 2 films. We don’t talk about the 4th.
- The Matrix – I must confess that the first time I saw this I wondered how many more times Canoe Reeves was going to awaken suddenly during the course of this film. Aside from being a top sci-fi story though it was a tour-de-force in visual effects and sound, such that it became pretty much the reference DVD for demonstrating surround sound systems and high-spec TVs. Neo is a bit of a mouth-breathing pillock, but you’ve got to forgive him a little given that he’s just had his entire existence turned around, whereas the others have had a while to grow accustomed to the idea. Just as well he hadn’t seen Hugo Weaving in Priscilla Queen of the Desert otherwise he may not have found him so intimidating.
- The Big Lebowski – Coen Brothers masterpiece that I can watch again and again. Bowling. Nihilists. A rug that really tied the room together. Steve Buscemi. John Goodman. John Turturro. Tripped out drug induced hallucinations about viking women and bowling. And The Dude.
When I started brainstorming a list, there were further logical and definite inclusions, but the trouble with Top 10’s is that you’re limited to ten items. Unless you renumber in base-24, I guess.
Argh, can’t resist.